Lehman named Champions Tour Player of the Year

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Tom Lehman is the first player to win Player of the Year honors on the Champions Tour, PGA TOUR and Nationwide Tour.
December 14, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The Champions Tour announced today Tom Lehman as Champions Tour Player of the Year. Lehman recorded three victories this year, finished No. 1 on the money list with $2,081,526 to claim the Arnold Palmer Award, and won the Charles Schwab Cup.

With today's announcement, Lehman becomes the first player in history to earn Player of the Year awards on all three Tours operated by the PGA TOUR. After winning the Nationwide Player of the Year title (then known as the Hogan Tour) in 1991, Lehman was voted as the PGA TOUR Player of the Year in 1996, the same year he won the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Players of the Year
1990 Lee Trevino
1991 Mike Hill
  George Archer
1992 Lee Trevino
1993 Dave Stockton
1994 Lee Trevino
1995 Jim Colbert
1996 Jim Colbert
1997 Hale Irwin
1998 Hale Irwin
1999 Bruce Fleisher
2000 Larry Nelson
2001 Allen Doyle
2002 Hale Irwin
2003 Tom Watson
2004 Craig Stadler
2005 Dana Quigley
2006 Jay Haas
2007 Jay Haas
2008 Bernhard Langer
2009 Bernhard Langer
2010 Bernhard Langer
2011 Tom Lehman

Lehman's $2,081,526 in official earnings made him the only player to surpass the $2 million mark in single-season earnings in 2011. It also marked the first time a player has been the leading money-winner on all three Tours. In 1991, Lehman topped the Nationwide Tour money list with $141,934 and in 1996, he claimed the PGA TOUR's Arnold Palmer Award with $1,780,159.

"Tom's year has been incredible," said Champions Tour President Mike Stevens. "To become the first person to receive Player of the Year on all three Tours is a significant historical achievement and must be rewarding and satisfying for Tom. His goal at the start of the year was to win the Charles Schwab Cup and to do that he knew he had to win tournaments and be consistent all year. He kept reminding us that it was a process and he took one week at a time. Now, he has been rewarded for his patience and skill and he is very deserving of this award."

Lehman, who joined the Champions Tour in 2009, earned his first Charles Schwab Cup this year, the season-long competition designed to recognize the Champions Tour's leading player, closing the season with 2,422 points, 74 points ahead of his nearest rival Mark Calcavecchia. After finishing runner-up to John Cook in the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hualalai, Lehman took the lead in the Charles Schwab Cup points race with a win at the second event of the year, the Allianz Championship, and never relinquished the lead.

"It was a goal of mine to complete Player of the Year on all three Tours and it's very satisfying to achieve something you set out to do," Lehman said. "To prove yourself as the best player of the year at every level is very satisfying. There are so many guys I respect and admire on the Champions Tour who had great years as well. We pushed each other week after week. I'm sure someone else will accomplish this feat in the future. I'm one of the few guys to have had a chance to play all three Tours."

In 21 starts, Lehman won three times and recorded 12 top-10 finishes. His first win came at the Allianz Championship at The Old Course at Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton, Fla., in February before capturing the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic at Fallen Oak in Biloxi, Miss., just three starts later. His third and final win of the season came at Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Ala., where he defeated Peter Senior in a playoff to win the Regions Tradition, his second career major championship on the Champions Tour. Lehman made four cuts from five starts on the PGA TOUR in 2011, including a tie for 22nd at the British Open. He also finished the Champions Tour season first in the statistical category of Greens In Regulation with 77.68 percent.

Rookie of the Year: Kenny Perry

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Kenny Perry earned the Champions Tour Rookie of the Year title. Perry turned 50 in August of 2010 and played two Champions Tour events late that season before making 10 official Champions Tour starts this year. Perry won his first Champions Tour title at the SAS Championship in Cary, N.C., in September after a steady year in which he recorded seven top-10 finishes, including a playoff loss (with teammate Scott Hoch) at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf in Savannah, Ga., and a tie for second at the 3M Championship in Blaine, Minn.

Perry closed the season with a tie for seventh at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in San Francisco, Calif., to finish as the highest rookie on the money list at No. 15 with $964,851.

Perry played the final round of the SAS Championship with a heavy heart after the death of his 59-year-old sister Kay the night before. Kay died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after a long battle with breast cancer two years to the day after his mother Mildred passed away at age 79.

Comeback Player of the Year: Chip Beck

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The Champions Tour Comeback Player of the Year recipient is Chip Beck, who recorded his best year on the Champions Tour, finishing No. 26 on the money list and qualifying for the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship for the first time.

Over the previous four years, Beck had played the majority of the time with only conditional status after finishing outside of the top-50 money-winners in 2007-09. He finished 49th last year. This year, Beck made the most of his 20 starts, finishing among the top-10 four times, the most top-10s he's had in a season since 2006 when he made just five starts. He was in contention down the stretch at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn in Conover, N.C., before finishing tied for third and was third at the Boeing Classic near Seattle, Wash., later in the year.

Beck tied for sixth at the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship in Harrison, N.Y., to record his first top-10 finish in a major on the Champions Tour. His third-place finish at the Boeing Classic the following week represented the first time since 2006, his first year on the Champions Tour, that Beck recorded back-to-back top-10 finishes in a season.

Beck's total earnings in 2011($605,833) were more than he earned in 2009 and 2010 combined ($528,564).